Orzo & Feta Salad

This is a very refreshing salad to bring to a party or serve at lunchtime. We used to have a grocery store that made an excellent version of this, and The recipe that follows is the inspiration. I also borrowed heavily from a version that Gia DeLaurentis makes. The beauty is you can add or sub in any ingredients you want – There are versions with fresh tomatoes or garbanzo beans, for example.

Recipe level: easy

Serves: 6

Time: 20 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 c. orzo
  • 4 c. Chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 3/4 cup feta
  • 1/2 cup sweet pepper, chopped fine
  • Sundried tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 1/4 c pitted kalamata olives, quartered

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 c. Red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 c. Virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh basil
  • 1/4 c. Fresh mint

Step one:

Boil the chicken broth and add the orzo. Make sure to stir, because orzo can get starchy. Cook for about seven minutes and then drain and set aside.

Step two:

Assemble the dressing and then toss with drained orzo.

Step three:

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Dip

I found this recipe in a Mediterranean cookbook, and decided to use it for our annual Oscar party. It was ideal because I was looking for a good dip to use that was vegetarian, but delicious. It is very versatile, and very easy to make. I would definitely use it as a spread for sandwiches, as well.

You will need:

  • 2 red sweet peppers 
  • 1 onion cut into wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Serve with pita chips, bread, or vegetables.

Too Busy? 

Instead of roasting the red peppers yourself, use one cup of purchased roasted red sweet peppers, drained

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the peppers in half and deseed and destem. Place the pepper halfs cut side down on the sheet. Arrange the onions and garlic on the baking sheet with the pepper halves. Brush vegetables and garlic with some of the olive oil.
  2. Roast the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes until the pepper skins are blistered and the onion is tender. Remove them from the oven and wrap the vegetables up in foil. Let them stand for 15 minutes. Peel and discard the skins from the peppers.
  3. Add the peppers and onions to a food processor or blender.  Squeeze the garlic from peels into the blender, as well. Add the remaining olive oil, and all of the remaining ingredients. Blend/pulse until nearly smooth.

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Planning a Hobbit Party

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Every year for my daughter’s birthday, I throw a neighborhood party with a theme of her choosing. With pinterest, a little creativity, and some fun I have pulled off some great parties over the years. This year my daugher read The Hobbit and fell in love with the book, so naturally our party had to be based on Bilbo Baggins and the Shire. We always have a pinata as a tradition, so I found one from Amazon and filled it with candy I bought at Walmart.
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The Menu –
  • Seed Cakes
  • Lembas Bread
  • Gollum’s Wriggling Fish – Swedish fish
  • Smaug’s Fire Dip – Buffalo chicken dip
  • Chocolate & Vanilla cupcakes – Hobbit rings from Amazon
  • Green Dragon Ale – Ginger Ale
  • Prancing Pony Potion – Koolaid
  • Brown Dragon Brew – Root Beer
  • Second Breakfast – Fruits and Veggies
  • Elevensies – Hamburgers and Hot dogs
Signs
I simply used parchment paper (that I had from my office) and a sharpie. Also, we found some games and used some “Hello My Name is” tags, as well.
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Games
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More Decorations
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Buffalo Chicken Dip

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I made this for my daughter’s Hobbit party, and called it: Smaug’s fire dip

Many people have their version of Buffalo chicken dip, but this is my favorite – stolen from my friend Hector:)

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
16 oz.  Philadelphia cream cheese – full fat, softened
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup Frank’s Red Hot original or Buffalo
2 (12.5 oz) cans of drained white chicken breast or rotisserie chicken breast, shredded
1-2 dollops of sour cream (not too much or it will ruin the flavor)

HEAT oven to 350°F. Blend cream cheese, garlic, and salad dressing until smooth. Mix hot sauce, cheese and chicken. Pour into a baking dish (8×8). BAKE 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through and bubbling. After it has cooled down, blend the ingredients.

Buffalo Chicken Taquitos

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This is a recipe I modified from: http://stayforsupper.com/2012/08/21/buffalo-chicken-taquitos/ and it has been a good hit. If you wrap the taquitos tightly, it will yield about 18.

Serve with blue cheese dip and/or celery sticks. You can also cut the hot sauce with regular buffalo sauce to diminish the heat.

  1. tortillas – I prefer El Banderito – some brands aren’t that good for rolling i.e. mission
  2. 4 cups shredded chicken – you can cook it yourself, or use a rotisserie
  3. 2 cups mozzarella
  4. 4 oz cream cheese
  5. 1/3 cup franks hot sauce
  6. 1/3 cup milk
  7. 2 tbs butter
  8. 1 clove garlic, minced
  9. sea salt & pepper, to taste
  10. 1 tsp cumin
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a small sauce pot over medium low heat, melt butter.
  3. Add garlic and cumin
  4. Add cream cheese and stir until melted and completely combined with butter and spices.
  5. Wisk in hot sauce and milk and simmer for 5 – 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste
  6. Combine chicken and sauce.
  7. Lay out a tortilla; I use maybe 2 tbs chicken and a sprinkle of mozzarella.           IMG_0208          IMG_0210-0
  8. Tightly roll up taquito and place on a greased baking sheet; repeat until chicken is gone. I use a pastry brush and water to seal the tortilla well.                                                                                    IMG_0212
  9. Brush taquitos with vegetable oil on all sides.                                            IMG_0213
  10. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes; rotate them every 5 minutes, until golden brown

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Serve and Enjoy:)

Easy Holiday Appetizer

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What do you bring if you have been lucky enough to score an invite to Christmas dinner or a good holiday party? Or what do you put out that is easy and festive for an appetizer if you are the one hosting? Luckily, the answer is the same. This is stupid easy, delicious, and visually appealing:) The flavor is sweet and savory at the same time, and most people won’t realize they are eating cream cheese. They will insist it is something swankier.

You need:

  • one brick of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (full fat)
  • one jar of fig preserves (you could substitute pear in a pinch)
  • one bunch of green onions
  • variety of gourmet crackers
  • a yellow pepper or red pepper (optional)

Step one: cut the cream cheese on a diagonal and then put together so it resembles the triangle of a Christmas tree.

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Step two: drizzle the preserves over the cheese.

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This is my favorite to use

Step three. Cut up the onions. I take the end pieces and place them in the bottom so it kind of looks like a trunk, then I sprinkle the green onions in a festive way. If you want, you can cut a yellow pepper into the shape of a star and place on top of the tree.

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Enjoy:)